1 9 8 3 – 1 9 8 4 (Australia)
184 x 50 minute episodes
A legal historical series produced by Crawford Productions in Australia. After the outstanding critical and popular success of The Sullivans on the Nine network, the Ten network – owned by Rupert Murdoch who was willing to spend big to put his network ahead in ratings – set about snaring suitable vehicles for ex-Sullivans stars Lorraine Bayly and Paul Cronin.
It was rumoured that Cronin was being groomed for a chat show while Carson’s Law was designed to accommodate Bayly. The series was devised by Terry Stapleton who likened the show to a blend of Upstairs Downstairs and Dynasty.
Set in Melbourne in the 1920s, the series highlights the interactions of two branches of the Carson family. The wealthy, powerful branch is headed by the father Geoffrey, A lawyer. His son was also a lawyer before he died leaving a widow (representing the other branch of the family) to bring up three children.
Jennifer, the daughter in law, is also a lawyer so that she and Geoffrey sometimes meet in court, often representing different sides in the same case.
After the death of his first wife, Geoffrey has married a much younger woman, Amy. Still living at home are youngest son, Robert, and daughter Amy. The latter in particular is frustrated by the inhibitions placed on her freedom by her father.
There is also another married brother and sister, and various figures below stairs including a motherly Irish housekeeper in Jennifer’s house and a more reptilian manservant in Geoffrey’s house.
The episodes were self-contained as far as the guest story was concerned and continuing as far as the regular characters were concerned.
Carson’s Law, despite the historical setting, was a kind of quality soapie. Altogether the series was something of an inversion of The Sullivans, Geoffrey and Jennifer were the two strongest characters in the drama (indeed most of the male characters were very wimpy) and the domestic drama centred on their relationships, both with each other and with other members of their households.
As father and lawyer Geoffrey is the patriarch, custodian of the law and his function in many ways is to uphold traditional values.